Forgot password?  |  Register  |    
User Name:     Password:    
Tour de 64   

Duke Nukem: Zero Hour

Great, what am I supposed to use, harsh language?

Duke Nukem 64 must have put up decent sales numbers or something, as here we have what was a brand-new Duke Nukem title created exclusively for the Nintendo 64. Changing perspective from first-person to third-person, Zero Hour more closely follows the gameplay conventions of the PlayStation games than its Nintendo 64 predecessor. Although I prefer first-person to third-person, this game is still a solid adventure that spans many time periods, though its multiplayer mode switches to first-person for its frantic action.

The story starts with Duke Nukem receiving a message from his past self in the Victorian era, explaining an assault launched by alien scum involving time-traveling to change history. Like any time-traveling plot it won't make much sense, but it provides a good enough excuse to change scenery and weaponry. Throughout the adventure there are a few references to real-world events, such as a battle with Jack the Ripper and a visit to the ill-fated Titanic, which was sunk by Duke Nukem in this revisionist history, apparently.

The levels have some basic objectives to progress like collect so-and-so or kill this and that, but it's essentially just point-A-to-point-B type of acts and nothing too complex. The design is still better than the previous N64 Duke game however, and rarely revolves around finding keys to unlock doors. The different themes also help provide some variety, from shooting up saloons in the old west to roaming the streets of an apocalyptic future. Although Duke retains his supply of weapons and items between levels, he loses them all when switching time periods, which can sometimes be a tad annoying in the beginning but forces learning the best use of each period's weapons. It also prevents building up a hoard of ammo, making accuracy somewhat important. Some levels have some insta-kill traps, which can be pretty annoying considering how lengthy some stages can be and that they lack checkpoints. Then again, since the game itself isn't that lengthy, the higher challenge makes some sense to stretch it out a bit. Fortunately, the few boss encounters are separate areas, which is good since they generally have some cheap attacks.

The presentation is a little better than the previous Nintendo 64 Duke Nukem game, utilizing three-dimensional models as opposed to the flat sprites of before. However, having so many polygonal models for the monsters, items, and effects results in there being quite a bit of slowdown when all of those things are on screen at once, and there are no large monster hordes, making the action more about individual encounters with one or a few baddies at a time. Where the previous game completely lacked music, many levels have some tunes which range from rock to more creepy environmental stuff, but there are still a few silent levels. Duke still sometimes makes wisecracks when defeating enemies or collecting a weapon, and although they are still relatively mild obscenities, they sound less stilted since they aren't being censored from a previous version of the game.

The selection of weaponry is fairly robust, ranging from the typical sets of machine guns and shotguns to more bizarre alien firearms like an energy rifle which rapid-fires bouncy, purple shots. A few of the series signature weapons return, such as the ever-fun laser trip bomb and pipebomb, as well as some new guns like a volt cannon and a new type of trip bomb that electrocutes its target. A few weapons have alternate ammo, such as the auto-loader for the shotgun to grant it rapid fire, a heat-seeker for the missile launcher, and the armor-piercing rounds for the sniper rifle which cause a ridiculous amount of damage. The ultimate weapon is of course one that results in a massive explosion, the BMF Thunderstrike, which zaps anything caught in its wake with lightning. It is a rare weapon in single player, making it best used on the bosses, but it can be a riot in multiplayer and can turn the tides of a battle. It is unknown what BMF stands for, but I'm sure creative minds can figure it out.

When I originally played this game it was in a rental way back when it was current. I was fortune enough to try out the multiplayer a few times with my older brother and friends, which has the usual deathmatch with a team option, survival, and King of the Hill. The arenas borrow the themes from the single player mode, and include things like a Victorian castle, old west fort, a big icy circle, and more, with the available weapon set to match. They are varied and designed well, providing many different opportunities for ambushes, firefights, and more, and a few have a secret or two where a powerful weapon or nice item might be hiding. The characters and enemies from the single player are selectable here, and they each spawn with one certain weapon and sometimes an item to go with it, and may also have more or less max health, providing another layer of variety.

Duke Nukem Zero Hour made for a fun rental back in the day, and is still a good pickup. Despite some issues, it's still a solid shooter, and the multiplayer offered many fun moments. It's another shooter in a long line that makes me miss the good ol' days, when shooters had more personality and creativity in their weapons and levels.



Jason Ross Senior Editor

02/17/2015 at 02:46 AM

You know, at some point in the future, I imagine I'll probably travel in time and sink the Titanic once or twice myself. I think it's a rite of passage.


02/18/2015 at 03:21 PM

I played this right after Duke Nukem 64 back in the day, which I loved, and was very annoyed by the third-person point of view. At the time Tomb Raider was a huge hit and I couldn't help thinking they gave Dukey the Tomb Raider treatment. Playing this was fun I discovered, but me and my friend still complained Tomb Raider ruined Duke Nukem.

Kathrine Theidy Staff Alumnus

04/24/2015 at 03:26 PM

Ha ha, that's pretty funny. I don't think Tomb Raider had anything to do with it, though who knows what may have inspired them. The original Duke Nukem game was a side-scrolling shooter, so they may have decided to put Duke back on screen now that the technology allowed it for a 3D game, as a way of returning to the series roots.


04/25/2015 at 03:25 AM

Everything was going more 3D in the late 90s. Putting characters into third person just showed off the environments better, I think. Tomb Raider was one of the first to be really successful with it. I just wanted more of L.A. Meltdown. Third-person seemed very un-Duke Nukem to me; it's a shooter, not an exploration game.

Log in to your PixlBit account in the bar above or join the site to leave a comment.



Hot Story

Nerds Without Pants Episode 164: Creationists

Welcome to a creative edition of Nerds Without Pants! This week, we’re joined by Mike, the host of Games My Mom Found. We talk about our favorite created characters, a ton of games, and decide who wins when Resident Evil 2 takes on…Resident Evil 2?! I dunno, man, the listeners book these cage matches.